Hotelier re-builds business from the ground up

The Port Dock Brewery Hotel has a long and fascinating history in South Australia, originally opening in 1855 along with 15 other new hotels in a rapidly developing colony.

Current hotelier John Cowled first joined the business in 1999 and stayed on board until 2010, during which time, the Dock won several awards, including the Telstra Small Business Award and the SATC award for best retail outlet and best restaurant.

Years later John returned to the Dock and helped it to reopen in July 2016 after an incident caused massive damage to the property.

John says it was the biggest challenge of his life – not only suddenly owning a small business, but also fighting recent years of negative customer reviews and a less than desirable reputation.

“I was sitting in the rubble of the restaurant with my wife when an old duty manager came over, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me I had their total support,” John says.

“There has been such strong community support in Port Adelaide and we’ve been lucky to always have a fantastic relationship with the council.”

In 2017, the Port Dock Brewery Hotel received a $100,000 Small Business Development Fund expansion grant to help fast-track its growth operations, particularly surrounding the brewery and tap beer.

“There was nothing to chill beer here and nobody likes warm beer,” John says.

“We had to buy new equipment and re-install fermenters, and we just couldn’t have done this in a reasonable time frame without that money.

“The grant was instrumental in helping us do things that otherwise would have had to be put on the back burner.”

John’s most proud moment as a business owner was celebrating the re-opening in July, and he credits the improvements in the business and the positive outlook to the support he’s received from his staff.
“I’m lucky to have brought some staff with me from a previous hotel, and they are excellent. It’s critical to have like-minded people to work with and for you.”

Further information

See the Small Business Development Fund